€10.5m has been paid out by Clare County Council on insurance costs since 2014.
The bill paid by the local authority has been over €1.7m in the last five years hitting €2.5m in 2017, since the start of the decade €18m has been paid out. The figures were released on foot of a motion from Cllr Pat McMahon who sought their “plans to reduce the Council’s liability and costs for the next five years”.
Last year the bill decreased breaking a trend of year by year rises in the amount paid out. €1,705,191 (2014), €1,788,720 (2015), €2,188,929 (2016), €2,514,622 (2017), €2,364,107 (2018) are the declared insurance premia for Clare County Council.
According to Director of Physical Development, Carmel Kirby, the local authority has a number of strategies in place orientated towards risk riduction in an attempt to reduce the costs.
A comprehensive ‘risk register’ is to be compiled and subsequently updated every six months “to raise awareness of the risks associated with implementation of programmes and objectives and the development of ancillary mitigation measures”. Similarly a ‘Safety Management System’ is to be drawn up with the view of reducing risks for staff and the general public across the services the Council is engaged in.
€1.6m was included in the Schedule of Municipal District Works for 2018 to “facilitate the remediation of an extensive schedule of defective footpaths throughout the county. The criteria used to determine the content of the programme focused on locations where footpath conditions posed a risk to users or where there was a history of occurrence of mishaps or accidents or the submission of public liability claims”. This funding was financed by a dividend from IPB.
“By far the most significant driver of fluctuation in insurance costs is the public liability claims component. IPB have introduced a fraud team to its staff in recent years to rigorously pursue fraudulent claims to help reduce the financial burden of such claims on Local Authorities,” Kirby stated.
Fianna Fáil’s McMahon felt the system was wrong where people who were found to have submitted false claims were not punished. “We all know about the spiralling cost of insurance. I welcome the safety management system and other measures that have been put in place. I have no problem when there is a genuine trip or slip, pothole damage to vehicles are the biggest source of claims for local authority.
“I know people who have injured themselves and not claimed because they would ‘have no luck for it’, the vast majority of people believe that. The Government have made a major mistake in disbanding the Garda unit to investigate false claims, we have seen people who should not avail of claims try to in recent weeks, it sends out a totally wrong message. At the moment, we’re in a situation where a person makes a claim and when it turns out to be false nothing happens,” the Newmarket-on-Fergus representative added.